Proud Mum Lisa Allen, from Lisburn and her own little hero, son Aaron (3) will be walking for Mencap NI, something she thought would never happen until Aaron attended the Mencap Children’s Centre.
Aaron, Lisa and husband John will be taking part in the learning disability charity’s first Princess and Superhero Walk on Saturday October 20 at Ormeau Park in Belfast.
When Lisa was 28 weeks pregnant with Aaron, she was told that he would have Duodenal Atresia, which causes intestinal obstruction where the stomach and intestines are not joined together, plus one in three people with the condition may have a chromosome disorder.
When Aaron was born, he was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, a heart condition, congenital cataracts and had to have surgery on his stomach and intestines on the day he was born. At 10 weeks, Aaron had eye surgery, at 12 weeks he had heart failure and is still under review with Cardiology, in fact for the first year and half of his life Aaron was in and out of hospital, his weakened immune system meant he had to be isolated at home and kept away from other children.
Mum Lisa explained: “Aaron had seven surgeries by the time he was two, his life he seemed to be constantly in surgery or recovering from operations. It was a difficult time as every operation was so serous, it was a constant worry about what to do. T
“Then Aaron got a place at the Mencap Children’s when he was two and recovered from all his operations and they just took all the strain away. It was unbelievable, Mencap changed our lives and empowered us to look after our child, we would have been lost without them.
“Before the Mencap Children’s Centre Aaron had never walked, but slowly he learned to use a walking frame and now runs around in it, his communication improved so much, that although he is non-verbal he can understand a lot more and has learned several signs and can make his needs known.
“His social skills improved so much he was now able to interact with other children and play, it was so wonderful to see that, just like any other child.”
Mencap’s Superhero and Princess Walk will help raise funds to support the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast, which works with 52 children a year, aged two to three with a learning disability, autism and global developmental delay.
The Centre works in partnership with the Belfast Health Trust and has speech therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists all based at the Mencap Centre providing all the treatment in one place.
Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said: “Bring your family, children and friends, in your favourite Princess or Superhero outfit and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere at our first Princess and Superhero walk.
“We will have entertainment, goodie bags and lots of real life superheroes. All money raised will help give children like Aaron the best start in life and support families across Northern Ireland.”
To find out more about the walk, log onto https://northernireland.mencap.org.uk/event/princess-and-superhero-walk